Fire is Fun or Minding the Light

My favorite church service of the year is the Easter Vigil.  For those who don’t know, the service is built around the movement from dark to light, the movement from death to life. It has hours (2 hours for us) of Scripture readings that trace “The story.” Adam, Noah, Abraham, Issac…. you get the point, there is singing interspersed and responsive readings. All the while the building is moving from dark to light. The readings are done by candle light (candles that have been lit by the Christ candle) and each person in the congregation is holding a candle as well… for nearly 2 hours.

For nearly 2 hours I sat by children with fire. After an hour and a half one gave up, but honestly its nothing to be ashamed of… she fought the good fight. There were several close calls, like the first time hot wax fell on her hand and she refused the urge to drop the candle into my lap. This is the child who has naturally curly hair and likes to wear it long and wild, and therefore we did slightly exude the smell of burnt hair, but only briefly.

Round about minute forty a sneezing fit nearly blew the light out. But no, she kept it safe and lit.

It was shining bright in the darkness making it possible for us to read and therefore pray with the rest of the congregation. That little light made it possible to worship and to hear “the story.”

When she was too tired to hang on safely, I held it for her. She curled up next to me and slept, after making me promise to wake her for communion. It’s her first communion after being recently baptized and this was a big deal for her.

Managing two candles and a fire friendly paper prayer booklet was a harrowing task. All my senses were focused on not burning the church down.  I had to mind the light.

Mind the Light is a Quaker phrase.  It means to pay attention to the light of Jesus within us, is it bright or dim? Is it going out, or setting our neighbor on fire? There are two ways to be a light to those around us, one is harmful and can leave permanent damage, the other shows the way, brings warmth.

This is what we’re talking about these days. Minding the Light.

In the morning, How can I mind the light of Jesus today? (Bible reading, prayer, solitude, a walk outside, forgiving others, asking forgiveness, making space for mistakes)

In the evening, How did I mind the light of Jesus today?

So it’s the evening of Easter Sunday. Jesus is the light, how are you minding it?

He is Risen!

“He is risen!”  The Lord is risen, indeed! Alleluia!”

How I love this greeting.  This is no “Morning” grumbled while stumbling toward that first cup of coffee.  It’s not a chin raised in recognition of an acquaintance or a quick handshake upon entering a room.  This is the greeting of two believers.  These are the traditional words that Christians exuberantly share on Easter Morning, heralding the joy they share in knowing that their Savior has indeed beaten the grave.  These are the words upon which our faith is built.

The fact that our Lord rose from the grave after three days is the whole reason for this season.  It’s the whole purpose of our faith In Jesus Christ as our Savior.  He came, fully man, to this earth to experience what we experience.  But, he was and is fully God.  The death of a good man on the cross for the sins of others would have been noble and loving.  But it would not have been redeeming.  This is such a difficult concept to teach to our children.  Christ’s death was gruesome and barbaric.  But at the very same time it was beautiful and holy and the greatest act of love ever performed for them.

As we walked through this season of self-denial and prayerful contemplation, I tried to help my children understand that the reason we deny ourselves certain pleasures and comforts in the time leading up to Resurrection Day is not to make us an inherently better person.  Denying ourselves sugar, or TV or meat on Fridays will not make us a holier individual.  It does not in and of itself bring us closer to God.  What it does do, if done in prayer and meditation on what He gave up for us, is point us to the One on whom we place all our faith and that is what makes us a better person.  That is what brings us closer to the One who died to know us.

Not only do we have a Savior who gave Himself over to suffering and death in order to share eternity with us, but He overcame death.  He endured His Father’s wrath so that we wouldn’t have to.  He felt the weight of every sin ever committed by mankind heaped upon his soul until at last The Father was satisfied.

And so we share these words after the long weeks of Lent.  We, at last, share in the joy of Jesus’ resurrection end the fast of the “Alleluia”s.  And when I greet my children on Resurrection Day with these words and they answer back,  I know that they, in part for now, and someday will fully know, the joy of knowing that their Lord has overcome all evil and they will stand with Him in complete victory.  Because He lives.  Today, tomorrow and always.